In the hands of the third generation, Rammert is longstanding in the Brazilian fuel tank industry. Having recently diversified into other areas, the company has proven that experience and strategy have been invaluable to survival in the business. Reuben Ford finds out from the General Manager, José Flávio Campos, how Rammert is still going strong after more than 80 years.
Robert Rammert & Cia Ltda began as a small hardware store in Assis, São Paulo state, in 1928. Eventually the company branched into small repairs and grew quickly, today producing more than 40,000 items for various industries, as well as producing fuel tanks. As it grew it became necessary to expand its infrastructure to accommodate its success, whereupon manufacturing was relocated to the industrial district of Assis, where the steel tanks are manufactured.
Today, the 7,000-square-meter CDA is expanding to 9,000 square meters, a project anticipated to be completed by the end of 2009. The company also resells iron and steel for industrial use. “We work like a small group,” explains General Manager José Flávio Campos. “The store, workshop (development center) and resale of iron and steel all contribute to our business.”
Rammert’s fuel tanks (referred to as jaquetados) are produced in line with Resolution 273 of CONAMA and entrance INMETRO number 185. In addition, Rammert is the first Brazilian company receiving ISO 9001:2000 certification. Its jacquetados are comprised of a tank that is made in steel carbon, ASTM TO-36 in agreement with NBR 13,312 (ABNT) and UL 58. A secondary tank, or jacket, is made of termofixe resin reinforced with laminated glass fibers.
Rammert’s underground tank, the first to be ISO: 9000 certified in Brazil, is used by companies like Petrobras.
DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSIFICATION
In 2007 Rammert branched into new areas of manufacturing. The company started to produce equipment in sheet steel for diverse areas such as the petrochemical, sugar and alcohol, mining and hydroelectric power industries. Supplying more than 62 different pieces of equipment for small to large scale applications, Rammert has considerably increased not only its product range but scope for new clients.
In particular, Rammert develops specific projects based on the requirements of the client. “The possibilities within precision welding and the needs of our clients are virtually endless. Recently we have manufactured equipment from around 1.5 million meters of sheet steel,” says Campos. Such products include mobile bridges for hydromechanics companies, ovens and piping for the petrochemical industry and heavy duty storage and treatment equipment for mining.
The diversification of its products and services has required new production processes. Parts produced in series for new industry sectors required new techniques and the purchase of new machinery. These techniques, which have been developed in-house, are adjusted in accordance with the specific projects requested by the clients. Rammert has invested in new cutting, soldering, and precision welding machinery from both Brazil and abroad to add to its stock of production machinery. The CDA has the capacity to produce up to 50 tons of equipment for any one project.
Investment has not ended here. The increase in the size of the manufacturing facility, to house new equipment and increase productivity also accounts for a large part of the company’s current expenditure.
MADE TO MEASURE
“Our work is primarily project based. All of the equipment is manufactured to satisfy specific client requirements,” explains Campos. In fact, around 95 percent of the product details are supplied by the clients. Rammert has project teams who plan the manufacture of the equipment and provide engineering details, improvements and adjustments. Each project is assigned a manager, who sees the entire process through from beginning to end. The projects, which include the manufacture of Rammert fuel tanks, contribute 70 percent of the $20 million annual turnover; the remaining 30 percent comes from the resale of iron and steel.
The success of Rammert’s products and services is reflected in its expansion. In 2007 the company employed 98 staff, a figure that has risen to 210 in 2009. According to Campos the company has achieved an average growth rate of between 50 and 60 percent in recent years and will continue to do so in 2009.
The reasons for continued growth, despite international economic difficulties lie in Rammert’s strategic planning. For the last two years, the diversification of its services has given the company a significant boost. Despite recent difficulties, the sugar and alcohol market was very strong in Brazil in 2007, and equipment for the sector demanded 80 percent of Rammert’s resources. Following the decline in this market, the others, such as the petrochemical industry and mining areas have filled the production gap, and Rammert continues to run at full capacity. “Many companies postponed big projects last year, due to uncertainty in the market. This year they are taking up the reins again, and so we are confident that 2009 will be another good year,” says Campos.
SUPPLYING A SERVICE
With no other company supplying the same range of metal equipment, Rammert is way ahead of potential competitors. Campos described the company’s client relationships as partnerships: “We do not see ourselves as suppliers alone, we are partners to our customers, offering a complete service, and practical, efficient solutions. We are integrated into their business and they can rely on our quality and service,” he says.
As a capital goods company, Rammert relies on its projects and the trust and loyalty of its clients are important factors in its success. Petrobras’ recent investment in the development of oil fields off the north coast of Brazil has resulted in Rammert focusing on the sector for future development. The company is currently researching, training personnel and restructuring this division in preparation for more growth in the manufacture of petrochemical equipment. Although Rammert only sells to domestic clients at present, it is through such projects that the company hopes to branch into the overseas market in the future.
The secret to survival and success in the industry is Rammert’s vision. During 81 years of trading, the company has continually developed and reinvented its products and services in accordance with its expertise and its clients’ needs. Embracing change and actively working toward new market tendencies have distinguished the brand. With a complete infrastructure and bright outlook, Rammert is well-prepared for the future.